Millions of people in North America will have the chance to view a solar eclipse as it moves across the continent on Aug. 21.
Several states in the U.S. will see a rare total eclipse, meaning the moon will completely cover the sun. The path of totality will stretch from Salem, Ore. to Chaleston, S.C. The total eclipse will last from 10:16 a.m. PT to 2:48 p.m. ET.
Canadians will see a partial eclipse, with the western coast seeing the most dramatic coverage of the sun.
People across the continent are gearing up to catch a glimpse of the event, which according to NASA will begin just past 9 a.m. PT.
Here’s everything you need to know about the eclipse.
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How much of an eclipse will Canadians see?
Canadians in Victoria will see as much as 91 per cent of the sun go dark, giving them the best view in the country, according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). Vancouver residents are close behind at 88 per cent.
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The eclipse will move east afterward, giving those in Regina about 80 per cent of an eclipse, and those in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto 70 to 75 per cent coverage. Ottawa and Montreal will see a 60 to 70 per cent partial eclipse. Those further east in Quebec City, Halifax and St. John’s will be 60 per cent or less.
The eclipse will begin in Canada in Victoria at 9:09 a.m. PT, and will be visible last in St. John’s at 3:29 p.m. NDT.
A full list of how much coverage major Canadian cities can expect and when can be found here.
Where can Canadians go to watch the event?
The RASC has planned eclipse viewing events across Canada, the organization will be at the open-area locations with telescopes.
However, it warns that viewers should come prepared with solar eclipse glasses. It adds that a view of the eclipse is weather-permitting, and could be obstructed by heavy clouds and rain. Details on RASC events can be found here.
Canadians can also head to almost any other open area, such as public parks and zoos, to view the natural spectacle. Individual groups are also planning viewing parties, which can be found online.
Travelling to get a better view
Those who really want a better view of the eclipse can travel to a location where there will be a total eclipse — but they’ll likely have to deal with large crowds and hefty bills.
Flights to cities directly in the path of the total eclipse (such as Nashville, Portland, Omaha, Knoxville, and Kansas City) are more expensive than they typically are, according to travel website Hipmunk.
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Some carriers, such as Southwest Airlines, are even holding special promotions for flights in the eclipse’s route to offer a “potential view of the rare sight.”
A slightly cheaper option for those wanted to travel could be driving, but it won’t be convenient. There are expected to be heavy traffic jams of people swarming to the cities for the event.
Can’t travel? Watch it online
Those don’t have the time, money or patience to travel (or even leave their work desk) for the celestial event, can opt to watch it online.
The event will be streamed live on NASA’s website, beginning at 12 p.m. ET. According to NASA’s website, the stream will cover the path of totality, additional shots from NASA aircrafts, satellites, and telescopes. More information on how to watch can be found here.
How to watch the eclipse safely
Watching the eclipse outside can be a fascinating experience, but NASA has warned that it needs to be done safely — and that means protecting your eyes.
The space agency released a statement explaining “eclipse viewing glasses” or “handheld solar viewers” must be used. Staring directly at the eclipse can damage retinas.
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Those who want to purchase the special glasses can buy them online. The price range varies, but begins at just a couple of dollars. However, it’s important the glasses come with a “designated ISO 12312-2 international standard” certification. There have been reports of fake solar eclipse glasses being sold online, which may not fully protect eyes.
Keep an eye on animals
Those keeping a watchful eye on the sky may also want to divert some attention toward animals.
NASA says some animals are expected to begin their nighttime routine hours early after getting confused by the moments of darkness. It says changes may be noticed in pets, local wildlife, and most notably in birds. The organization has outlined all the zoos along the eclipse’s path on its website.
The Vancouver Zoo told Global News that it is anticipating some animals to act differently, especially ones that react more easily to stimuli, such as giraffes and zebras.
Eclipses used to have a bad reputation
The solar eclipse has a history of being associated with strange myths. While these days it’s a popular spectacle, it used to be regarded as a bad omen.
“Back in the old days, an eclipse was the last thing anyone wanted to see.” Edwin Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, told Global News.
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There were several superstitions associated with the event, such as a belief that pregnant women shouldn’t watch the eclipse because it wasn’t safe.
When will Canada see a total solar eclipse?
While Canadians won’t get to look up at a total solar eclipse this time, the RASC reports that they will get lucky on April 8, 2024, when one will be visible from Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador.
That’ll be 16 years after Canada’s last total solar eclipse, which happened in 2008.